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July 2013 Employment Law Newsletter

07-07-2013

If you would like to discuss any employment issues please contact Julie Taylor on 01635 508181

1.    Employment Law Changes: Employment Tribunal fees

From the 29 July 2013 any claimant wishing to complain to an employment tribunal will have to pay a fee on submission of their claim form. The fee will be at least £160 rising to £250 for an unfair dismissal claim.

New ET1 claim forms and ET3 response forms have been published and are available here.

There is also a fact sheet explaining the fees here.

2.    More Employment Law Changes: Settlement Agreements

Also from the 29 July 2013 compromise agreements have been renamed settlement agreements and new legislation is in place to prevent pre-termination negotiations from being referred to in evidence in any unfair dismissal claim even if there has been no current employment dispute. This is intended to give employers the opportunity to have more frank discussions with their  employees, but best advice remains to be extremely cautious in these situations and to take legal advice when dismissing an employee.

ACAS has also published a Code of Practice on settlement agreements  designed to help employers, employees and their representatives understand the implications of the new legislation.

See the Code here.

3.    Victimisation & multiple complaints

The Employment Appeal Tribunal has determined that an employee who made a series of misguided complaints (ten grievances and eight different tribunal claims) that led to his dismissal was victimised.

This case is a reminder that grievances and tribunal claims are generally ‘protected acts’ provided that they are not made in bad faith and an employer will unlawfully victimise an employee if it dismisses or subjects them to a detriment because of a protected act.

In this case, the reason for the employee’s dismissal was the fact that he had raised a number of unjustified grievances in the past and that, in his state of mind, he was likely to do so in the future.  Consequently, his victimisation claim succeeded.

Employers who are faced with repeated unfounded complaints should, however frustrating it might be, still handle grievances properly and in accordance with the ACAS code or their own policies.

As always, specific legal advice should also be taken before dismissing such an employee or taking other disciplinary action.

4.    Retirement

An employment tribunal has ruled that in the particular case before them, a compulsory retirement age of 65 was a proportionate means of achieving the legitimate dual aim of workforce planning and staff retention.

The case concerned the terms of a partnership agreement that all partners had consented to and it is significant that the decision related to the law as it was on 31 December 2006. At this time, the Age Regulations 2006 permitted employers to retire employees at or over the age of 65. These Regulations were repealed in April 2011 and consequently, the tribunal highlighted that this case may have been determined differently had the situation arisen after the abolition of the Regulations.

THEREFORE, it is important for employers to be aware that having a compulsory retirement age is direct age discrimination unless it is shown to be a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Having a justifiable retirement age is exceptional rather than the norm and employers should seek specific advice where this issue arises.

Please note that these comments are intended to summarise some of the employment issues of the moment, not to provide detailed legal advice, so if you need assistance with any employment issues you may have please contact Julie Taylor on: 01635 508181 or  [email protected]

Follow Julie on Twitter: @JulieT_GL


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